Utilities vote to close gigantic Arizona coal plant

Navajo Generating Station photo
CC BY 2.0 Eflon

Whether it's a Danish energy giant committing to phasing out coal or Deutsche Bank deciding to no longer lend to coal mines or coal-fired power plants, the writing on the wall keeps getting larger and clearer for all to see.

Coal is not coming back.

The latest piece of evidence, reported over at AZ Central, is about the major utilities which own the massive 2,250 megawatt Navajo Generating Station in Arizona—described in the report as one of the largest polluters in the nation. The plan, according to AZ Central, is to shutter the plant by 2019, when one of the three turbines will have to be retired anyway. But because decommissioning takes time, and the lease for the plant is up by 2020, the utilities will have to either work out a deal with the Navajo Nation to extend the lease, or they'll have to shut down at the end of this year to clean up and be out of there before their lease is up.

Given the astounding economic, health and environmental impacts of coal, this decision is a major win for environmentalists. But as with any such closures, we should all be calling for support for the communities who have relied on this project—and a nearby coal mine—for income.

In much the same way that Australian unions have joined forces with environmentalists to demand a "just transition" away from coal, we need to make sure that in the shift away from fossil fuels, we create opportunities for all communities to benefit.

I asked before if environmentalists have failed West Virginia. The same question should be asked in ten years' time of the Navajo Nation.

Utilities vote to close gigantic Arizona coal plant
Just one more sign that coal is on its way out. For the workers who relied on it, we need a plan for what comes next.

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